Out Coworkers Are Better Coworkers, Says Study

By Winston Gieseke

Originally published on Advocate.com September 27 2011 2:35 PM ET

A new study says people who are open about their sexual orientation are better team players than those who aren’t.

The data, released by the Anderson School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles, was the result of a study conducted using 50 undergraduate men, each of whom was paired with either an open or closeted gay man and given math problems and a Nintendo Wii shooting game to work through together over a period of six months.

The men who were paired with an openly gay partner performed on average 32% better on the math problems and 20% better on the Nintendo game than those whose partners were closeted.

According to researchers, the disclosure of sexual orientation cuts down on ambiguity, making the partnership less demanding psychologically.

Benjamin Everly, who conducted the survey along with fellow doctoral candidate Geoffrey Ho and associate professor of human resources and organizational behavior Margaret Shih, said that while the reason for the study was to contribute to existing research on personal interaction, “the more practical motivation had to do with the “don’t ask, don’t tell policy.’”

“There actually hasn’t been any experimental work to show performance is affected when someone with whom you are working discloses their sexual orientation,” he said.

Activists are hoping the research will build support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

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